After the Nationals scored four in the first two innings last night, with Ryan Zimmerman driving in a run with a two-out RBI double in the first, and Adam Eaton connecting on a three-run home run to center in Miller Park in the second inning, Washington’s offense managed just two hits off Milwaukee Brewers’ righty Junior Guerra.
They put two on in the seventh, with back to back singles by Eaton and Anthony Rendon, before Jeremy Jeffress struck Juan Soto out to end the threat and keep it 4-3 in the Nats’ favor, but a half-inning later, the Brewers rallied to tie it, and the home team ended up winning 5-4 on a walk-off hit in the tenth inning.
Davey Martinez’s squad went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position on the night, with six left on base.
On the season, the Nationals, after 100 games, now have a .251/.348/.401 line with runners in scoring position, 9th/8th/8th across the line among National League teams, and the one-run loss to the Brewers left Washington 10-17 in one-run games this season, with a 16-28 record in their last 44 games in June and July.
Overall, the Nats, who are now 49-51, are 7.0 games out in the NL East with 62 games to play.
As positive as he is, Davey Martinez was asked if he experienced any frustration after that type of loss.
“Nope,” Martinez said. “We’ve got a lot of games. And I know this team. We can turn this around. No doubt about it. We’ve got the guys to do it. Everybody’s coming back. Zim looks good. Eaton looks good. [Daniel Murphy is] moving around pretty good, so it’s just a matter of time before we start putting a string of hits and innings together where we can score a lot of runs.
“Our starting pitching is keeping us in the games now and our bullpen has been consistent, so we’ve just got to keep battling. Things will turn around. Keep battling.”
“All good teams go through a funk,” Martinez added. “[The Brewers] went through a funk, and they’re good, so we’ve just got to keep on battling.”
Asked what he did or said to keep the team positive, “before the wheels start to fall off,” as a reporter in Milwaukee put it,” Martinez said, “I just came in and told them, I said, ‘Keep our heads up. We’ve got an early game tomorrow, let’s come back tomorrow and play baseball,’ but this thing will turn around, this team will definitely turn around. We’re too good for it not to.”
Is that a guarantee?
“Ain’t nothing guaranteed except paying your taxes,” Martinez said, forgetting or ignoring the other part of that idiom.
Eaton’s home run (which was his third this season) was the 118th overall by the Nationals in 2018, good for 5th overall in the NL, but their four runs in Milwaukee left them with 433 on the year, 11th most among National League teams.
Martinez acknowledged that the Nationals were too reliant on home runs for their offense, and said they need to improve their ability to advance runners and produce runs when not hitting it out of the yard.
“We’ve got to just move the baseball sometimes too,” he explained.
“I mean, we can hit home runs,” Martinez said, “but there’s times we just need a hit in big moments, but these guys are good, they’re good hitters, so I really believe that it’s coming, and like I said, getting Zim back and Adam Eaton feeling good, it’s going to happen.”
If it’s going to happen, it better happen soon, because the Nationals are running out of time to turn things around. Not only are they 7.0 games back in the NL East, they’re also 6.0 out in the race for the second Wild Card spot with four teams ahead of them as of this morning.